(Ashochimi) Literature

Long, long ago, the peaceful Ashochimi Indian tribe inhabited a rich and luxuriant valley on both sides of a river, now known as the Russian River north of San Francisco.

The Wappo lived by hunting and gathering, and lived in small groups without centralized political authority, in homes built from branches, leaves and mud. Their woven baskets were so well-crafted that they were able to hold water.

When Mexicans arrived to colonize California, Wappo villages existed near the present-day towns of Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. Those on the south shore of Clear Lake were completely absorbed and dispersed to the Spanish missions in California. The mission accounted for at least 550 Wappo baptisms. The name Wappo is an Americanization of the Spanish term guapo, which means, among other things, "brave." They were known as brave for their stubborn resistance to Mexican domination, particularly their resistance to all military attempts from General Vallejo and his enlisted allies. In 1836 the warring parties signed a peace treaty.

Alfred L. Kroeber put the 1770 population of the Wappo at 1,000. Sherburne F. Cook (1976:174) raised this estimate to 1,650. By the early 1850s, the surviving Wappo were reported to number between 188 and 800.[8] However population dropped by 1880 to 50, and the 1910 Census returned only 73

Wappo is an extinct language that was spoken in the Alexander Valley north of San Francisco by the Wappo Native Americans. The last fluent speaker, Laura Fish Somersal, died in 1990. Wappo's language death is attributed to the use of English in schools and economic situations such as the workplace.

According to Somersal, the name for the people and language is derived from the Spanish word guapo, meaning "handsome" or "brave". The name for the people was originally Ashochimi. Wappo is generally believed to be distantly related to the Yuki language, and is distinct largely due to Pomoan influence.

The Wappo Indians had no written language. They shared their ideas, stories, and feelings by speaking only. Stories and customs were passes down by parents to their children. Their name has been spoken and written many way. Here are a few: Ashochimi, Caymus, Guapos, Mayacama, Mishewal, Rincon, Wapo, Wappa, and Wattos.

The Wappo (Ashochimi) lived along the headwaters of the Napa River and Pope and Putah creeks to the south of Clear Lake in northern California. They spoke a language of the Yukian family and probably number less than fifty today.
Wappo means "brave".


Legend of the Geysers


Animals They Hunted

Plants used by the Wappos

Wappo language

Indigenous Peoples' Literature Return to Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Compiled by: Glenn Welker

Copyright @ 1993-2016

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